Is The Future Now?

Not pleased with the team's ongoing lack of offensive production, University of Miami coach Larry Coker has already indicated that he might hold off until shortly before kickoff before deciding on the Hurricanes starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Rutgers. But that's not the only decision Coker might have to make thanks to Hurricanes freshman tailback Tyrone Moss.

Despite Coker's insistence that senior Jarrett Payton will remain the Hurricanes starting tailback for now it was Moss who produced the game-winning touchdown in Miami's 17-10 victory over Syracuse and helped UM overcome another stagnant performance on offense. Moss alone accounted for more than half of the Hurricanes rushing total (170) against the Orangemen.

Moss, the all-time leading rusher in Broward County by way of Pompano Beach Ely High, rushed for a game-high 91 yards on 18 carries after entering the contest at the start of the second quarter.

But none of the attempts were larger than the one he had with 8:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. That's when the stocky 5-11, 215-pounder shrugged of an attempted tackle by Syracuse free safety Anthony Smith and carried linebacker Rich Scanlon into the end zone on a nine-yard touchdown run that gave the Hurricanes a 17-10 advantage.

After only carrying the ball twice in the entire first half, the Hurricanes unleashed Moss late in the third quarter in hopes of jump-starting an offensive unit that again was headed in the wrong direction with UM trailing 10-7. Moss responded by rushing 10 times during a 16-play, 53-yard drive that concluded with Jon Peattie kicking a game-tying field goal.

Faced with a first-and-10 from the Syracuse 35 on the game-winning drive Moss took off on a 26-yard run before finding the end zone for the second time this season on the very next play. And although the Hurricanes would not score again, Moss' effort was enough to prevent the Hurricanes first three-game losing skid since 1999. Moss' scoring run was just the third touchdown in the last three games scored by the Hurricanes.

"It was just one of those situations that I was just trying to help the team move the ball," said Moss, who rushed for more than 7,000 yards at Ely, including 2,313 and 35 touchdowns as a senior. "I just kept telling myself to keep pushing no matter what. The best thing about it was we got a win - something we really needed."

Who knows? This might be the opening Moss needed to land the starter's role at tailback.

Moss, who did not play in the Hurricanes' 10-6 defeat to Tennessee, has rushed for 312 yards on 58 carries in a reserve role this season. Payton, a senior, has been held to an average of 73.6 rushing yards in the last three games, while Gore is currently recuperating from another knee surgery. UM is fifth in the Big East in rushing with 162 yards per game with Payton leading the way.

It was Moss who predicted last year - while still in high school - that he would come to UM and immediately pose a threat to Gore's status as the starting tailback. Moss even went as far as to say that he would become the best back in the Hurricanes' history. And with the Hurricanes' offensive unit in need of a spark it would seem Moss would get his chance right away.

But apparently Coker is not hinting on whether Moss will have his workload increased.

"There are a lot of things that we see in Tyrone that make me believe he's going to be a great player for us," Coker said. "Obviously he's going to play a lot the rest of the season. But is Tyrone going to start for us? We haven't made that decision."

If anything Moss did his part in impressing some of the guys that opened holes for him to run through against Syracuse. Several of the Hurricanes offensive linemen felt Moss ran hard against the Orangemen.

"He just kept digging for yards," said junior offensive lineman Chris Myers. "I'm not a coach or anything, but I wouldn't mind seeing Tyrone in there some more."

Moss isn't about to put an argument – no matter what happens.

"Anybody in there right mind wants to play, there's no question about that," says Moss. "But that a decision that the coaches have to make. All I can do is stay prepared and ready because you never know when you're number is going to be called."

With nothing else working at the moment, Moss, who had a season-high 135 rushing yards on 15 carries against Temple earlier this season, could be just the remedy for the Hurricanes offense against a Rutgers defense that is No. 6 in rush defense (170.2 yards per game) and No. 7 in total defense (404.5 ) in the Big East Conference.

Moss turns 19 today. It would be a bit delayed, but what better birthday present for Moss then to give the tailback his first career collegiate start against the Scarlet Knights?

"I'm not making that call," said Moss.

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